Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives. It’s so important that we actually spend about a third of our lives sleeping—that’s roughly 25 years! But why do we sleep? And what happens to us when we sleep? Sleep is not just something you do in between waking up and going to work…it’s actually a very intricate process with many different stages, each with their own function. In fact, sleep researchers are still learning more about this mysterious phenomenon every day!
Sleep is complicated!
Sleep is a complicated process. It's not the same thing as being unconscious, and it's not just when you're snoring away in bed. In fact, sleep is a complex process that involves several stages of sleep (and even some REM—or Rapid Eye Movement—activity during those stages). So let's break down what happens to your body during each stage of sleep:
Stage 1: You start falling asleep as your brain waves slow down from alpha waves to theta waves and eventually into delta or slow wave patterns. Your muscles become relaxed, heart rate slows down and breathing becomes more regular. This stage can last from five minutes up to an hour depending on how well rested you are or if there was anything on your mind before bedtime!
Stage 2: Your brain waves begin transitioning into a more synchronized pattern known as "sleep spindles" followed by short bursts of rapid eye movement (REM). These phases together make up around half an hour of deep sleep time before entering into REM for another 60-90 minutes leading up towards waking up again later that morning or afternoon depending on how long you slept for during your night cycle!
Our circadian rhythm is key to sleep health
Your circadian rhythm is your body's internal clock, and it regulates the timing of biological processes throughout your day. It's based on environmental cues such as light and temperature, but also influenced by genes. The circadian rhythm has a 24-hour cycle that runs in tandem with the world around us—in other words, it's not just a matter of when you wake up; it's about when all the processes in your body are supposed to happen at any given moment. And those processes include things like hormone release, metabolism rate changes and even sleep patterns (in particular REM sleep). So basically, it's a pretty integral part to sleeping!
We need REM sleep for healthy skin renewal
I have a confession to make: I am not a big fan of REM sleep. This is not because I’m lazy and don’t want to get up early in the morning, but because I find it hard to fall asleep at all when I’m stressed out. And sadly, there are many times in life when we might be stressed out; whether it be from work or family issues, stress is an unavoidable part of life.
On top of being a good time for memory formation, REM sleep is also important for skin health. It occurs during the deepest phase of our sleep cycle (called slow-wave or non-REM sleep), during which our bodies repair damaged cells and regenerate cells by creating new ones at a faster rate than normal — roughly two times faster than they do while we’re awake!
How does this relate to skin health?
It's well known that skin health is affected by sleep, but the reverse is true as well. In other words, you can't have good skin without a healthy night's rest. The relationship between the two is an important part of your circadian rhythm and may explain why you feel so tired in the morning.
The more we learn about the intricacies of sleep and its impact on our body, the more we can focus on solutions for sleep and wellness.
This is a big deal. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your skin can look dull and fatigued. Your mood may suffer from insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness, which can make it hard to focus on tasks at hand or even be present for your relationships with others. Sleep is also crucial for weight loss because those who don’t get adequate sleep tend to eat more than their well-rested counterparts—and often crave high-fat foods like ice cream!
A lack of sleep can cause puffy eyes, dark circles, dehydrated skin and wrinkles too. So in general, we can look very fatigued and when we look in the mirror and see how tired we look, we can then feel even more tired too. Plus there's nothing more annoying than somebody telling you that you look tired... it's like "Yes, I know, I appreciate you reminding me!" *cue the eye roll*
The bottom line? Getting too little shut-eye throws off the body’s ability to manage stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline—which can affect everything from skin care routines (less time spent moisturizing) to productivity levels (more time spent napping).
So there you have it—a crash course in REM sleep, and how we can use this knowledge to improve our health. I hope that this has been an informative read for you. Remember: even though each section of sleep may be different, every stage is important for health and wellness. So don’t forget to get enough quality time in bed (and out of it) each night!
Thanks so much for reading,